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So It Begins: Military Same-sex Couples Already Facing Problems

September 27th, 2011 No comments

As I wrote in my previous post, the repeal of DADT peels away the mask on a problem just as it solves another: Once gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly, their relationships snap into view. And then we can see, clearly, the devastating effect of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the daily lives of these couples.

A regular reader and friend drew my attention to this story from Reuters. It details the difficulty that a lesbian couple — a couple with a six-year-old child and a baby on the way — faces when both parents are in the military. The odds that they’ll be placed together are much lower since they’re not married. They have to appeal under a hardship rule, and that’s less likely to be successful than a request to remain together submitted by a legally married couple.

In this case, the hardship request was denied. (But the request was made before Luz Bautista, the mom making it, was able to reveal that she was in a relationship.) So Bautista is about to be shipped off Illinois for a three-year posting that could be extended. The couple plan to swap custody every three months or so, which seems the best they can do under the circumstances. This is another stark example of how DOMA undermines the very family values it was supposedly implemented to protect. We should call attention to cases like this at every opportunity, and call upon the oppositionists to explain and justify such a result.

Meanwhile, until DOMA is either repealed (not any time soon) or declared unconstitutional (a better chance), advocacy groups should be holding the Obama Administration’s feet to the fire. We should insist that the hardship rule be interpreted in such a way as to render same-sex couples no less likely to be placed together than their opposite-sex counterparts. A directive so mandating should issue, forthwith. For now, stories like this one reveal the stark inequality of DOMA and draw the date of its demise ever closer.

Bautista: “The emotional toll. You can’t even describe it. It has been tearing us apart for the last couple of months.” Most parents would agree. And there’s no need for this trauma. Fix it, already.

All-Hit Radio(?)

March 1st, 2011 No comments

Tomorrow, I’m to be the guest for the first full hour of the Dave Scott Show. It’s available, live at 1 pm EST and via podcast thereafter, at this web address: http://thedavescottshow.wordpress.com/

I’ll be talking about marriage equality, with an emphasis on the recent development in the Defense of Marriage Act cases, and probably lots more of interest to everyone, whether in the LGBT community or not: DADT repeal; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, state and federal responses to bullying, and who knows what else.

On Obama’s Speech Accompanying DADT Repeal

December 23rd, 2010 No comments

From the political to the personal, and back. It’s all here.

Categories: 365gay column, military Tags:

The Gloves Are Off!

December 20th, 2010 No comments

As right-wing, anti-gay crazies continue to get buried alive in the culture war, their positions increasingly discredited (and sometimes laughable-if-they-weren’t-scary), expect the rhetoric to turn increasingly nasty. They’re caught in a downward spiral, where each advance for LGBT rights and (in the bargain) dignity occasions more desperately out-of-touch fulminations, which, in turn, will continue to marginalize them and lead to further advances. Here are a couple of representative reactions:

Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council:

Or this, from Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, bearing the hysterical title: “Benedict Arnold Republicans Destroy Military and Our National Security” (not “compromise,” or “weaken” — destroy! Our military, as of now, is no more).

The Saturday morning cloture vote on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the critical vote. It needed 60 votes and got 63, because of Republican renegades Scott Brown, Mark Kirk, George Voinovich, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. If these traitors to national defense had voted in line with the Republican Party platform, the cloture motion would have received just 57 votes and would have failed.

The final vote on the bill itself, requiring just 51 votes, was a mere formality after the cloture vote.

“Esprit and cohesion are necessary for military effectiveness and success on the battlefield.  To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, For those who say the Republican Party does not need a litmus test for its candidates, you just lost the argument and frittered away the strength of the U.S. military at the same time.

The armies of other nations have allowed gays to serve openly in the military. The reason they could afford to do this is simple: they could allow homosexuals to serve in their military because we didn’t allow them to serve in ours.

They knew they could count on the strength, might, power, and cohesion of the U.S. military to intervene whenever and wherever necessary to pull their fannies out of the fire and squash the forces of tyranny wherever they raised their ugly heads around the world.

Those days are now gone. We will no longer be able to bail out these other emasculated armies because ours will now be feminized and neutered beyond repair, and there is no one left to bail us out. We have been permanently weakened as a military and as a nation by these misguided and treasonous Republican senators, and the world is now a more dangerous place for us all.

It’s past time for a litmus test for Republican candidates. This debacle shows what happens when party leaders are careless about the allegiance of candidates to the fundamental conservative principles expressed in the party’s own platform.

Character-driven officers and chaplains will eventually be forced out of the military en masse, potential recruits will stay away in droves, and re-enlistments will eventually drop like a rock. The draft will return with a vengeance and out of necessity. What young man wants to voluntarily join an outfit that will force him to shower naked with males who have a sexual interest in him and just might molest him while he sleeps in his bunk?

I don’t even need to analyze this one.

Many more, along the same lines, are collected here for your reading…pleasure? horror? disbelief?

It’s going to keep getting uglier, but that’s because it keeps getting better.

Five Thoughts on DADT Repeal

December 19th, 2010 No comments

Collect them here. Then trade ’em with your friends and family!

Categories: military Tags: ,

The Unconstitutionality That Dare Not Speak its Name

October 26th, 2010 No comments

Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, says in an email to activists in advance of today’s DADT meeting:

Obviously this meeting has gotten out. We are expecting the content of the conversation today to be off the record and to help us figure out how to move forward with the lame duck session.

Also as previously mentioned, there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting. The focus is repeal and the lame duck session. This is also a non-partisan meeting where we want everyone’s help.

So the meeting was supposed to be secret, and it’s still “off the record.” Maybe that makes sense politically.

Then the hammer: the meeting will end if the judicial challenge is so much as mentioned. Not surprising, since one of the participants might try — again — to get an Administration official to say what, so far, hasn’t been said:

We think this law is unconstitutional.

An Up-to-the-Minute DADT Primer…

October 21st, 2010 No comments

…in this week’s 365gay.com column.

Subject to change at any moment.

Categories: military Tags: ,

Refinements and Update to DADT Ruling Post

October 14th, 2010 No comments

Over at 365gay.com, I update and tweak my post from Tuesday on Judge Phillips’ issuance of an injunction against the further implementation of the DADT policy.

Categories: military Tags: ,

What DADT Ruling Means

October 12th, 2010 3 comments

Federal judge Virginia Phillips has just issued a permanent (as in, “forever”) injunction against enforcement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law. Does this really mean that the discharges will stop? Can a lone judge in California really effect a change of this magnitude?

Yes. She just did, and there’s no legal — as opposed to political — reason preventing this step. Her decision on a question of federal law, absent appeal, holds for the entire nation. After reiterating her judgment that the law violates constitutional protections of fundamental rights, free speech, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, the brief order makes clear its reach and effect. The court:

(2) PERMANENTLY ENJOINS Defendants United States of America and the Secretary of Defense, their agents, servants, officers, employees, and attorneys, and all persons acting in participation or concert with them or under their direction or command, from enforcing or applying the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act and implementing regulations, against any person under their jurisdiction or command;

(3) ORDERS Defendants United States of America and the Secretary of Defense immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act, or pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 654 or its implementing regulations, on or prior to the date of this Judgment.

This means what it says. The policy is gone, and even those DADT-based investigations or discharges that are in process are to stop. Immediately.

Before issuing this final ruling, Judge Phillips had solicited input from the Obama Department of Justice about the effect of her proposed injunction. But their arguments about the harm of such a ruling failed to persuade her, so the law is now history, unless the Obama Administration appeals. Even in that case, they would have to ask for and be granted a stay (both of which would be quite likely) for the injunction to  be lifted.

What to do? This is perhaps the worst-case scenario for Obama: If, as expected, he appeals, he gives the LGBT community and disgusted progressive voters another reason to stay home next month.

Should he take advantage of the sixty-day period allowed for appeal, putting off reckoning until after the mid-terms and counting on the lame-duck Senate to pass the repeal measure? Under ordinary circumstances, this approach might have some promise, but not in this case. The problem is that the repeal measure, even if it passes, isn’t a repeal at all, but the result of a compromise “vote-now-repeal-later-(maybe)” approach. (For the repeal to become effective, a host of actors and institutions, apparently including the local Rotary Club, would have to certify that repeal wouldn’t harm military readiness.) Even with this “repeal” law, DADT would remain in effect for the time being, so that the issue of whether to appeal Judge Phillips’s ruling would have to be confronted in any case.

Does it pain me to say that Obama has only himself to blame? To an extent, yes, because I still believe that his deepest instincts are grounded in a basic notion of equality. But too often, those instincts are submerged beneath a cautious political calculus that ends up deferring or defeating the very initiatives he backs. Still no ENDA, no reasonable prospect of DOMA repeal, and now this situation — where even if the Obama DOJ doesn’t appeal, he’ll get, and deserve, only limited and grudging credit.

Well, too bad. That even this flawed measure didn’t get through the Senate is nothing short of appalling, and a sad testament to Obama’s inability to bring his own party to heel (as by slapping down Harry Reid’s parliamentary tricks, which served only to alienate the few moderate Republicans he might otherwise have counted on).

If I’m a gay or lesbian service member, though, I’m not coming out: yet.

Reaching Out

September 30th, 2010 No comments

This week’s 365gay column recounts my story of reaching out to a straight soldier, whom I met on a plane. I hope you find that it buoys you, in some way.

Categories: 365gay column, military Tags: , ,